Sunday 29 January 2012

January 31, 1876 - Part One

The first square timber of the season was brought into the city on Saturday afternoon by Messrs. Bradley and Flatt’s Voyageurs. The timber was placed in the firm’s rafting grounds on the bay.”
                                   Hamilton Spectator    January 31, 1876

          Finally, the lumber harvested in the forests of Binbrook, Glanford and the Flamborough townships started to arrive in the city as the month of January, 1876 was coming to an end. Work was available for some making large rafts of the logs to be pulled out of the bay into Lake Ontario – the work was welcomed but the operation was not without its hazards.
Hamilton police in 1876 seemed to encounter a never-ending stream of odd characters and Mr. James Galvin certainly was one of them :
       One fine afternoon last summer as the police were taking their after dinner nap, they were rudely awakened by a shower of brick brats coming through the office windows. They sallied forth in a body and discovered a miserable looking wretch enthusiastically throwing stones in every direction, the little amusement seemingly affording him the most intense satisfaction. He was arrested and after reproaching the police for spoiling his little piece of fun, he coolly informed them that he was sick of fooling around any longer and wanted to go to prison. The police magistrate accommodated him by sending him to the Central Prison for six months. The day before yesterday the fun-loving James got out, and after a very unpleasant Sunday  - getting his meals very irregularly – he came to the conclusion that the Central Prison was better than Hamilton any day, and this morning at ten o’clock while sauntering down King street, the glittering array of jewellery and watches in Ben Batty’s show window attracted his attention, and he deliberately put his fist though a pane of glass and grabbed at the watches. Mr. Batty, who was sitting at the window, immediately jerked the case of watches away from him and then rushed out and had the reckless James arrested by Constable Bennett. On being brought to the police office he explained to the chief that he wanted to go to prison and thought he would steal some watches as an excuse. He was tried this afternoon and sentenced to two years in the Provincial Penitentiary.”
Another criminal of note, also got a full paragraph in the Daily Spectator covering his exploits:
          On the 20th of October last, James Campbell was convicted by the police magistrate on the charge of stealing a pair of boots from Mr. Beveridge of this city, and was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. The door of the police cells was left open for a few minutes by mistake, and Campbell, who loved liberty, walked out and made his escape. Since then he has succeeded in keeping out of the way till last Saturday evening, when he was discovered on John street by constable Frazer, who arrested him. The County Attorney not being present at the police court this morning the case was adjourned till four o’clock.”
In January, 1876, as it was before and after that year, it was not unusual for Snowy Owls to overwinter in the Hamilton area :
          Some fine snow owls can be seen on exhibition at Mr. Norvell’s shop on Hughson street. The birds were shot in the woods neighbouring this city.”
Finally as evening services were over at one of Hamilton’s leading Methodist churches, a couple of inebriated characters choose to mock the churchgoers, while, at the same time, making fools of themselves:
        The antics of two young men on Main street last evening, as the people were coming out of the Centenary Church would have been more creditable to the proverbial bear on a hot gridiron than to two wholesale clerks.”

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